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The Bank Holiday Murders by Tom Wescott (2014)

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  • Fascinated and Curious

    Tom,

    I can't call myself a Ripperologist but I've been reading the books, listening to the podcasts, reading the message boards, and watching the documentaries for about 4 years now, and this post to your thread has been a long time coming. In terms of background, I listened to your podcast last year and then downloaded the book to my Kindle immediately. Let me launch into this to prevent an even longer post ...

    On the separate board pertaining to Emily Horsnell, Debra wondered if perhaps Emily's situation stemmed from a botched abortion, which would explain the injuries to her vaginal area and the degree of secrecy the lodging house keepers employed in seeking medical attention. They didn’t want to be caught as the hosts and facilitators of illegal abortions.

    The same scenario could explain the situation you so eloquently spelled out in terms of what happened to Annie Austin. She died of vaginal injuries/internal infection and there was a huge cover-up involved and an effort to derail police from uncovering the truth.

    Finally, in the last chapter of Bank Holiday Murders, you mention that there were rumors circulating throughout the East End community that there was, indeed, an underground series of botched abortions that many knew of but, for obvious reasons, did not speak of.

    This seems very plausible to me, not only because nuggets of reality always hide behind the curtain of myth and rumor, but because it would explain how the deaths of Horsnell and Austin could seem so similar in terms of MO and corruption, even though they took place years apart and therefore were unlikely the work of a singular serial killer.

    This thought process is really messing with me because, after carefully reading Bank Holiday Murders and listening to all of the interviews you gave on it, I’m sold that Pearly Poll was lying and that there seems to be a connection between Smith, Tabram, Polly Nichols, and Chapman.

    However, it’s clear to me that the five canonical victims were not abortion victims (they were not pregnant prior to death, they were not killed in doss houses amidst a circle of people who were running an underground operation and then trying to cover their tracks). “The five” were killed in mere minutes out in the street in a manner suggesting that the killer could not possibly have specifically targeted them. Catherine Eddowes was in jail 45 minutes before her murder … she and the others were chosen because they were in the right (or wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time.

    This is my long-winded way of trying to ask two conclusive questions:

    1) What are your thoughts these days on the botched abortion issue as it relates to the murders that took place in and were then covered up in dosshouses?
    2) How do you reconcile the connection between these murders and the Ripper murders?

    Also, sincere apologies if this post has basically been stated verbatim elsewhere. I keep up fairly well with these Boards but it’s been a while and I might have missed something. If the case, feel free to direct me to the appropriate discussion page.


    Truly Yours,
    Loren DeLand Davis

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Loren Davis View Post

      On the separate board pertaining to Emily Horsnell, Debra wondered if perhaps Emily's situation stemmed from a botched abortion, which would explain the injuries to her vaginal area and the degree of secrecy the lodging house keepers employed in seeking medical attention. They didn’t want to be caught as the hosts and facilitators of illegal abortions.
      Hi Loren

      Welcome to the boards.

      I must point out though that the only report (one brief newspaper mention)on Emily Horsenail's death says that she probably died from peritonitis caused by kicks to the stomach. There is no mention of vaginal injuries, there was no post mortem examination ordered to ascertain the exact cause of death either.

      I agree with Tom that there is something strange about Satchell or his deputy allowing Emily to stay in a room for a couple of days in increasing pain without seeking treatment. It looks like some sort of incident was being covered up.

      Comment


      • It may or may not be relevant but Emily Horsnell was admitted to the Whitechapel Infirmary earlier in March 1887 from 19 George St with an injured or inflamed (the abbreviation isn't clear) foot:

        Comment


        • Hi Debs,

          Looks like inflamed to me, too.

          Cheers
          Dave

          Comment


          • Debra -

            Thank you for the clarification. You're quite right. There's no contemporary evidence for vaginal injuries in the case of Emily Horsnell - I was making assumptions and conflating information with the cases of Smith, Tabram, and Austin.

            I realize that nothing can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at this juncture, but in your opinion, based on the years of research you've done, are you inclined to say that there is a connection between the Ripper murders (the canonical five) and the crimes that were being covered up by the doss house owners (Horsnell, Austin, and - per Tom's book - most probably Smith)?

            Warmly,
            Loren Davis

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Loren Davis View Post
              Debra -

              Thank you for the clarification. You're quite right. There's no contemporary evidence for vaginal injuries in the case of Emily Horsnell - I was making assumptions and conflating information with the cases of Smith, Tabram, and Austin.

              I realize that nothing can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at this juncture, but in your opinion, based on the years of research you've done, are you inclined to say that there is a connection between the Ripper murders (the canonical five) and the crimes that were being covered up by the doss house owners (Horsnell, Austin, and - per Tom's book - most probably Smith)?

              Warmly,
              Loren Davis
              Thanks Loren.
              No disrespect to you but that is what tends to happen when an author has attempted to 'join the dots' to produce a theory. Over time, theoretical elements that were the basis for scenarios get picked up by readers and treated as if they were fact and built on further.

              I wouldn't necessarily agree that there was a large conspiratorial covering up of anything by the lodging house keepers, but individually we seem to find different keepers willing to cover up violent criminal incidents against the unfortunate class of women. Perhaps it was just because these women were not valued or respected, not worth bringing police to the door for, not worth getting other more useful male lodgers into trouble for...

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Dave O View Post
                Hi Debs,

                Looks like inflamed to me, too.

                Cheers
                Dave
                Thanks Dave.

                Comment


                • :cool:
                  Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post
                  Thanks Loren.
                  No disrespect to you but that is what tends to happen when an author has attempted to 'join the dots' to produce a theory. Over time, theoretical elements that were the basis for scenarios get picked up by readers and treated as if they were fact and built on further.

                  I wouldn't necessarily agree that there was a large conspiratorial covering up of anything by the lodging house keepers, but individually we seem to find different keepers willing to cover up violent criminal incidents against the unfortunate class of women. Perhaps it was just because these women were not valued or respected, not worth bringing police to the door for, not worth getting other more useful male lodgers into trouble for...
                  A very sensible post, Debra. I would add that sometimes the dots are assumed to exist to fit the theory. The supposed criminality of the 'Lords' is a case in point. Apart from a few minor indiscretions, the evidence is just not there.

                  Comment


                  • Tom -

                    I would still appreciate your perspective here. This thread has made clear that not everyone is convinced that there was a conspiratorial cover-up amongst the doss house landlords working in conjunction with corrupt cops - at least, not beyond individual and unrelated cases of people in positions of authority choosing to cover up specific crimes for the social and financial reasons Debra has cited.

                    I still have two questions that remain somewhat in tact from my original post:

                    1) What do you think is the likelihood that these individual cases (Emily Horsnell, Emma Smith, Annie Austin) were botched abortions, and, if so, could that explain the fact that there were rumors of a crazed midwife/abortionist circulating in the East End in the generations immediately following the Whitechapel murders?

                    2) If you still maintain that Horsnell, Smith, and Austin are all related and connected to the Ripper slayings, have you given thought as to how that reconciles with the seemingly random nature of the five canonical murders? In the cases of all five (and especially Stride & Eddowes), it seems that the women were "chosen" because they happened to encounter the murderer when he was out prowling. If the killer had been deliberately tracking those five women (as you sort of suggest when you connect the dots between Nichols, Chapman, and Pearly Poll all living at the same doss house), it seems odd that he would encounter them when they all happened to be alone and in isolated areas, without having prior knowledge of their whereabouts or future plans. Everything about the murders - the haste with which they were committed and the very public places in which the women were killed - suggests, to me, an opportunistic sexual serial killer and not a murderer with an agenda targeting specific women due to shady doss house politics. If that was the case, I think those five murders would have looked much more like the murders of Horsnell and Austin (committed behind closed doors with accomplices aplenty).

                    I'd appreciate your thoughts ... thank you

                    Loren Davis

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Loren Davis View Post
                      Tom -

                      I would still appreciate your perspective here. This thread has made clear that not everyone is convinced that there was a conspiratorial cover-up amongst the doss house landlords working in conjunction with corrupt cops - at least, not beyond individual and unrelated cases of people in positions of authority choosing to cover up specific crimes for the social and financial reasons Debra has cited.

                      I still have two questions that remain somewhat in tact from my original post:

                      1) What do you think is the likelihood that these individual cases (Emily Horsnell, Emma Smith, Annie Austin) were botched abortions, and, if so, could that explain the fact that there were rumors of a crazed midwife/abortionist circulating in the East End in the generations immediately following the Whitechapel murders?

                      2) If you still maintain that Horsnell, Smith, and Austin are all related and connected to the Ripper slayings, have you given thought as to how that reconciles with the seemingly random nature of the five canonical murders? In the cases of all five (and especially Stride & Eddowes), it seems that the women were "chosen" because they happened to encounter the murderer when he was out prowling. If the killer had been deliberately tracking those five women (as you sort of suggest when you connect the dots between Nichols, Chapman, and Pearly Poll all living at the same doss house), it seems odd that he would encounter them when they all happened to be alone and in isolated areas, without having prior knowledge of their whereabouts or future plans. Everything about the murders - the haste with which they were committed and the very public places in which the women were killed - suggests, to me, an opportunistic sexual serial killer and not a murderer with an agenda targeting specific women due to shady doss house politics. If that was the case, I think those five murders would have looked much more like the murders of Horsnell and Austin (committed behind closed doors with accomplices aplenty).

                      I'd appreciate your thoughts ... thank you

                      Loren Davis
                      Excellent reasoning Loren, which I am in total agreement with

                      www.trevormarriott.co.uk

                      Comment


                      • Hi Tom -

                        I'm not quite sure why I have been able to engage other reputable Ripperologists on a thread about your book and not you, but it's disappointing. I'm new and inexperienced relative to others on this board, but I've been absorbing information about the case for years now and hope that I'll only continue to learn more and eventually establish myself in some form in this field. I know that the best way to do that, for now, is to read the material and ask questions of scholars I respect, and you have been one of my favorites to listen to on the podcasts. I purchased your book as soon as it was released and devoured it within a week.

                        If you might find the time to read my posts and respond to them, it would be appreciated. I'm asking questions out of a genuine thirst for knowledge, approaching the subject as a student wanting to learn, and not as a scholar with her own theory looking to challenge opposing views.

                        Regards,
                        Loren Davis

                        Comment


                        • Hi Loren,

                          If you happen to be on Facebook, you might have much better luck talking to Tom on his 'The Bank Holiday Murders' Facebook page. I haven't seen him posting on any boards for quite awhile, I'm sure it's nothing personal.

                          JM

                          Comment


                          • I'm assuming he's busy writing the next instalment and is trying to avoid distractions. He's certainly not known for being shy on the boards;-)
                            Thanks for your time,
                            dusty miller

                            Comment


                            • When I first read Tom's book I wasn't convinced by the picture he seemed to be painting of the so-called 'Lords of Spitalfields'. There didn't seem to be enough hard evidence to show them in a really sinister light, or as having much of a reach beyond their lodging houses.

                              But since then my view has changed somewhat - for two main reasons.

                              The first is that having learnt a bit about the career of Billy Maher (Billy Myers/Billy Meers), I now think that the lodging house keepers probably did employ some serious enforcers.

                              Billy was one of the three men who tried to evict Margaret Sullivan from one of Crossingham's houses in Dorset Street. He and two other men, one a killer and the other a prolific pick-pocket, bluffed their way into the building and attacked Sullivan and Bertie Crossingham. Sullivan received stab wounds to the face and torso.

                              Probably Billy's main claim to fame, however, was the killing of the boxer Black Jack Stevens in a Kentish hop field. As with a lot of this stuff, we'll probably never get to the truth of the matter, but it doesn't require too much imagination to see the incident as some kind of a contract killing.

                              Other accounts describe Billy shooting a man who had insulted his employer (Annie McCarthy, I suspect) in the face, and chasing the notorious Squibby out of a lodging house. He threw a knife at Squibby, but missed.

                              On another occasion Billy, having suffered a severe beating by a group of men who had tried to turn over a gambling operation he was involved in, went looking for revenge with a gun in his pocket. When he tracked down one of his attackers, he fired off a shot at him, but fell over as he did so and missed his target.

                              Billy was acquitted of the murder charge, the Sullivan case seems to have fallen apart, the man who was shot in the face refused to press charges and although Ben Leeson was on hand when the knife was thrown at Squibby and the revenge shot was fired, Billy was not arrested.


                              In addition to the Billy stuff, some of the comments made by Mary Steer, who was involved in the Bridge of Hope Mission which ran Refuges for fallen women in and around the Ratcliffe Highway, lead me to believe there must have been a considerable degree of organisation in the East End sex trade.

                              Steer speaks of a white slave trade between London and the continent and of East End girls being transferred to other parts of London to prevent their bring 'saved' by the ladies of the mission. The newly-discovered record of a brothel in Ship Alley, apparently staffed by 20 'Belgian Girls', adds support to her statement.

                              And although she doesn't use that exact term, she speaks of the 'Lords' of the Highway putting the word out that the BOH ladies were not to be interfered with.

                              So Mr Wescott's instincts may not have been so far off the mark after all.

                              Comment


                              • Edward Stow writes: 'I found some of Tom's Bank Holiday book interesting also and it led to me re-evaluating some aspects of the case, but in debate I have focused on the parts I disagreed with him on as otherwise there is no debate.'

                                Edward posted this on another thread, but per HB I thought it prudent to move over here. It's heartening to know Ed that you enjoyed at least parts of the book and that it's re-evaluated your thinking. Debate is fun and crucial, but letting the person you're debating with know that you're not inherently disagreeing with him just for the sake of disagreeing, is also a necessary ingredient of healthy debate. Also, in a public forum, it might be fair to share that with the hundreds reading but not commenting so they know that the book you're debating isn't necessarily a steaming pile of dung.

                                Originally posted by Gary Barnett
                                So Mr Wescott's instincts may not have been so far off the mark after all.
                                This is doubly heartening, Gary, and greatly appreciated by me. I need to catch up at some time with all the latest research undertaken by yourself and Debs and others. I have a lot of projects going on as well as the demands of daily life so am a bit out of the fray, as I see someone has drawn attention to in an earlier post.

                                My thinking is simply this - there was most certainly a criminal element among the the major East End lodging house keepers. And someone close to the houses of 18 and 19 George Street was on a campaign of terror from at least November 1887 to at least August of 1888, and probably beyond. I suspect some among the Lords of Spitalfields knew more than they let on, and I suspect this because they more than any other people would be in a position to know what was happening to the women in their houses. The Bank Holiday Murder was me generating this lead and then doing the best I could at that time to follow up on the lead. As I said in the book, my hope is that others would see the value in it and further it along, even possibly to a resolution of the Ripper murders.

                                Regarding the posts by Loren Davis below, if you're still around let me know and I'll be happy to answer any questions you have. But in my book I posted my twitter account, my book's facebook page, as well as an e-mail address I check regularly, so I don't think I've been too hard to reach these past couple of years for anyone who wanted to reach out to me.

                                Yours truly,

                                Tom Wescott

                                Comment

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